Immunity After Recovery from COVID-19? Yes, But There Are Caveats
One question that is being floated around a good bit lately is: "If you get COVID-19 and then recover, are you immune from getting it again?"
Given that the medical community is still learning about the virus, the answer is not as easy as black and white but the news is still relatively good.
Dr. Robert "Chip" Schooley, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego, offered some answers to this query.
"The evidence we have is that people will be immune after a bout with this virus," Dr. Schooley said.
However, there are caveats. First, you have to fully recover from the virus.
"You should probably wait for about two weeks from the time of your symptom onset to assume you're good to go in terms of coming out of self-isolation," said Schooley.
Here's some more good news. The immunity doesn't depend on how serious your symptoms were when you were sick.
Another factor in all this is the strength of your immune system. If you have an underlying condition that weakens your immune system, then you may not be protected.
Now, immunity may only last a year or two depending on how fast this new coronavirus mutates. Dr. Schooley says that most viruses do in fact mutate over time.
"The other coronaviruses have been in the human population for up to 800 years. Those viruses are different enough in the environment, or around us, that you can get reinfected every two or three years. And that's why you see these infections coming in waves," he said.
Here's some more good news. Two years now, if a new strain of coronavirus does hit, it won't be as bad as this one.
"You could get reinfected and usually when that happens the disease is less severe," Schooley said.
When all is said and done, immunity itself can be a huge factor in fighting the virus.
"In Africa, that's exactly what they did with the Ebola outbreak. People who had recovered from Ebola infection, health care workers, became extremely important in being able to go back in and take care of their colleagues because they, themselves were no longer at risk," said Dr. Schooley.